6 Questions to Composer / Media Artist Adam Basanta
Adam Basanta (b. 1985) is a multiple award-winning composer and media artist whose work traverses electroacoustic, acoustic and mixed composition, audiovisual installations, interactive laptop performance and innovative light design. His work often explores different modes of listening, cross-modal perception, unorthodox performance practices and the articulation of site and space. His music has been described as “frantic, noisy and gutsy” (Words and Music), “an electrochemistry of the new and old” (Boston Musical Intelligencer), while “the richness and dynamism of colour in his pieces stirs questions” (Musicworks). His concert works, dance collaborations, and audiovisual installations have been presented internationally. Adam holds a BFA from Simon Fraser University, where he studied extensively with Barry Truax, and is currently completing an interdisciplinary research-creation MA at Concordia University, supervised by Sandeep Bhagwati (Montréal/Berlin) and Chris Salter (Montréal/Berlin).
 Briefly describe your musical / sound art background and education, formal and informal.
I played guitar as a teenager (rock, jazz, improv), and in 2003, after high school, completed a certificate in Sound Engineering from CDIS (now Ai) in Vancouver. In my late teens, in addition to playing and writing in various bands, I began creating (but not disseminating) experimental music, first on a cassette 4-track and by around 2004 on a Macintosh G4 computer. I began a BFA in music composition at SFU in 2006, studying with Barry Truax, Arne Eigenfeldt and David MacIntyre, which I completed in 2010. In 2010, I began an interdisciplinary MA degree at Concordia University (graduation in 2012/13) in composition and sound installations, where I study primarily with Sandeep Bhagwati and Chris Salter.
 Could you briefly describe your current musical / sound art activities, private, within the community, and public. Please indicate whether you view these as “professional”, “artistic” or other kinds of activities.
I compose acousmatic, acoustic and mixed compositions, which are presented in Montréal and world-wide. I also create light-and-sound installations which have been presented in Montréal and elsewhere as well as perform laptop improvisations, both solo and in collaboration with other performers. Occasionally, I collaborate on projects (dance, A/V, interdisciplinary) as a sound designer, composer or light artist. I view these artistic activities as professional, although (with exceptions) they often provide little to no income.
 Please briefly describe your uses of technologies in your creative life. You may want to include a short description of the equipment and software / services you use (number of computers, phones, scanners, Facebook, Skype, etc.), and comment on your use of mobile technologies compared to a few years ago.
I use my MacBook Pro laptop everyday, usually for interent or social media use, Max/MSP coding or composing (in Pro Tools or Finale). I have a Facebook account which I check one to several times a day. I also check my email account throughout the day. My email and facebook use haven't changed much in the last few years. I use Skype when I am travelling, but prefer to keep in touch with friends and family by talking on the phone if I have a choice.
I have a cell phone, but only recently upgraded to a “smart phone”. I do not use Facebook or email on my mobile phone, as I spend enough time doing that on my laptop. I do not use Twitter, nor do I blog.
 How do you feel that the use of these technologies has contributed to those areas of your creative life where you employ them? You may also wish to comment on those that you don’t use (and the reasons). Do social media help or hinder in this?
While it does lead to procrastination and time-wasting, I feel that social media is helpful professionally. I use Facebook a lot to find out about shows and events in Montréal. I have seen many shows I wouldn’t know about otherwise in this way, as I might see that a “friend” is going to a certain show I did not know about. I advertise my own shows on Facebook, my own email list as well as listservs. Through a network of international friends and colleagues, I am also able to get a sense for events and interests in different parts of the world; I have discovered several interesting artists in this manner. I also post my new work on several relevant Facebook groups, which I browse periodically for interesting work or calls for work.
Finally, the positive side of data-mining has provided me with several suggestions of groups/artist pages/events I should join. And while I don’t use Myspace anymore, I do post audiovisual work on Vimeo, which has a very good artist community as well.
 Facebook, Myspace, YouTube, Skype, Twitter, blogs … are part of the lingua franca of the students I meet every year. Are there ways for the older generation to use these technologies to communicate our values to those who were born after (about) 1988?
Yes. Join and post. I know many composers and sound artists in their 40s who have Facebook pages.
 Distribution of work used to be difficult to secure. Today with YouTube and Clouds, it is ubiquitous. Where it used to be difficult to find a copy of something, today, sometimes it is almost as difficult, not because it is not available, but because there are 1200 other (similar) competing items. Could you comment on how you see your work in this context now and in the future?
Well, I find it easy to find specific works (through Google) when I know the artist’s name or the work’s title. It is difficult to find a specific work when you are looking generally (in terms of general search terms) at a genre (on YouTube, Vimeo, etc.), where there may be many others. On the other hand, one can discover work one isn’t seeking directly by browsing through sites like YouTube or Vimeo and using the “suggestions” or “similar videos” tabs to find similar work.
For my own work, I try to make sure my website and online presence in Vimeo, YouTube etc. are tagged with both my name (for specific searches) and general terms (sound art, installation, etc.) for more general searches.
 Open area commentary.
[No response submitted.]
Thursday, 6 September 2012